How I came to love strength training
In my last blog post about how Rio Fitness came to be, I described how fitness changed my life by empowering me to do things I never thought I could. (This all happened while I was living in Brazil, by the way, hence the name). Today I want to share with you how strength training came to be our MO and the meat and potatoes of our program.
I started exercising because I didn't like how my body was looking and I wanted to lose weight. Simple as that. At the time, I thought the best way to lose weight is cardio - so I started running and doing indoor cycle classes. I fell in love with it! With the atmosphere of the spin classes, the camaraderie of the running group, the high after a great sweat sesh, the feeling of empowerment I got by pushing my limits a little bit every day.
But it didn't take long for the running and repetitive motions of cycling to take a toll on my joints. I started having knee pain. When I approached my running coach about it, he prescribed the solution without hesitating: "you need to lift some weights." Screeeeech. What? What in the world does that have to do with my running goals and, especially, my weight loss goals? He explained to me that my knees were giving me trouble because the stabilizing tissue (tendons and ligaments) and the prime movers (big muscles like quads and hamstrings) need to be stronger to be able to withstand the volume of training I was doing. And, he added, it's also what's going to help you lose weight in the long run. (The weight loss is a story for another day. I'll come back to that one later.)
Like the diligent little disciple I was, I looked into strength training. I had never really done it before, but what I knew of it, I absolutely haaaaaaated. Repetitions. Rest. Repetitions again. Rest. Boooooooring! And you don't even sweat, right? What's the point? But coach said it, and my knees were killing me and keeping me from doing the thing I loved well, so off I went to look for a personal trainer. Which, by the way, I couldn't afford on a teacher's salary (my job at the time).
I had become friends with one of the cycling instructors at the gym, and one day after class as we talked, he shared with me how much he needed to learn to speak English (we were in Brazil, remember?). Well, English happened to my specialty and the thing I taught every day, so there you go! He had a specialty I needed, I had a specialty he needed! Why not?
For three years we swapped hour for hour: he trained me and I taught him English. It was a match made in fitness heaven! And once again, my mind was blown wide open by things I didn't know, didn't know I didn't know, and didn't imagine I could ever do, much less enjoy. The weight lifting 3x a week started reshaping my body - literally. In a way that running never did.
The weight lifting 3x a week started reshaping my body - literally. In a way that running never did.
I could see the difference in the mirror. Lines and contrasts made my stronger muscles under my skin. I stood a little taller. My "thunder thighs" (silly insecurity I had) started to actually look - dare I say it? - sexy! And my knees stopped hurting when I ran. But the main difference was what you couldn't see - once again I felt empowered by the realization that everything, absolutely everything, was trainable. I didn't have to be born with a skill set or a predisposition. I could teach and train myself to do and be anything!
But the main difference was what you couldn't see - once again I felt empowered by the realization that everything, absolutely everything, was trainable.
I was doing push ups, for goodness sakes! Real, unmodified push ups on my toes, not my knees. I was doing heavy squats and deadlifts and bench presses. Stuff I couldn't do just months before. And my body was actually changing its physical shape to keep up. Mind. Blown.
Since then, strength training has been the backbone of how I train clients. Of course we do cardio, and I still think running and cycling are excellent ways to get fit, but they don't do what lifting weights, progressively heavier over time, do. Cardio doesn't give you denser, stronger muscle fibers. Or improve your movement patterns to help you move more comfortably and confidently. It doesn't set your body up to prevent injury. It doesn't reshape your body. It doesn't keep you burning fat even when you're just sitting around. Only strength training does all that.
And that's why at Rio Fitness we teach and use strength training as our main method to improve health and fitness and promote weight loss.
I was once like many of our clients - totally inexperienced when it comes to strength training. That's why I absolutely love taking clients through this journey and being able to be a witness to their many a-ha moments!
Time to make a change? Schedule a 30-minute chat with me at the gym or over the phone. We'll talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and together come up with a plan that will get you there and fit your budget.
Or start by downloading this 8 Strategy Transformation plan!